Dragon Ball is a series that has captivated audiences for many decades and for hundreds of episodes and chapters of material. When a series exists for that long, it’s understandable for it to evolve and change over the cross of its existence.
In its infancy, Dragon Ball leaned more towards humor than it did action and it took place in a fantastical universe, but one that still seemed relatively grounded. Over time, though, this would change and it later became clear that audiences really responded to the series’ battles and that this would eventually become the franchise’s bread and butter.
As battles and tournaments became more prevalent, characters needed more hooks and surprises to push these fights to the next level. It was at this point that Super Saiyan was first created, and there was no turning back from there.
Dragon Ball is now a series that is full of transformations-- of both the Saiyan and non-Saiyan nature. Some viewers now tune into the series just because they want to see what the cool, new transformation will be.
While Dragon Ball has added many new beneficial transformations into the mix that can help Goku and friends in battle, there are also a number of unhelpful transformations that are actually detrimental in battle. Many of these transformations can focus on style over substance and it’s sometimes hard to tell the strong transformations apart from the busts.
Accordingly, here are the 10 Most Powerful Transformations (And 10 That Are Completely Worthless) From Dragon Ball.
20 Worthless: Super Saiyan God
This entry is actually a little controversial, but this is also the reason why it’s at the bottom of the worthless list. Super Saiyan God is by no means a weak or useless transformation, but due to the alternatives that exist out there, it is now an outdated, irrelevant stage of power.
To first access this new level of power, Goku has to undergo a ritual that involves five other Saiyans donating their power to a Saiyan who is pure-hearted. Goku qualifies and he’s able to save the world as a result when Beerus comes to visit.
Of course, all of this also depends on if you follow the Dragon Ball Super anime or its manga, because the manga actually features the Super Saiyan God transformation in a much more favorable light.
Super’s manga sets out to prove the true purpose of Super Saiyan God power and it reveals that the transformation is actually quite the tactical benefit when in the right hands.
Vegeta never shows off Super Saiyan God in the anime, but he almost uses it more than Super Saiyan Blue in the manga. The two are used in tandem, and due to the way in which Blue can limit the body, it’s almost used like a Kaio-Ken style boost that can assist Super Saiyan God when needed, but Super Saiyan God is the primary form here.
19 Powerful: Perfect Cell
After Goku and the rest of the Dragon Ball crew square off against Frieza on Planet Namek, they get a pretty effective crash course on the multiple forms and transformations that bad guys love to put to use.
Frieza had a number of transformations that had to be tamed, but the gang’s next villain, Cell, took transformations to a whole other level.
What makes Cell’s transformations different than Frieza’s is the fact that they’re dependent on other individuals. Dr. Gero designs Cell with the idea that Androids are going to be the fuel that he needs to reach his apex.
Cell already starts off strong due to the fact that he shares the Z Fighters’ DNA (and movesets), but Imperfect Cell is not exactly a challenge.
Cell’s ultimate final form gives him access to incredible strength, which is why there are so many stipulations in order to reach this power.
Androids 17 and 18 are strong fighters in their own right and the fact that Cell’s perfect form depends on their defeat is quite a disadvantage. Cell does achieve his end goal here, but it takes a whole new echelon of Super Saiyan to ultimately take him down.
It also doesn’t hurt that Perfect Cell can create multiple Cell Jrs. To do his dirty work, which in itself would be enough to take out most. The tiny dopplegangers are just as strong as Cell.
18 Worthless: Great Ape
Before Dragon Ball even knew about Saiyans or different alien planets, one of its starting elements was the fact that its protagonist, Goku, had a tail.
The original Dragon Ball didn’t shy away from the fact that this tail allows Goku to transform into a Great Ape, which in many ways is his greatest strength in the earliest days of the series.
As the franchise evolves into Dragon Ball Z, the material explains that this Great Ape form is the trademark form of the Saiyan race. In fact, Saiyan elite, like Vegeta, can even control the chaotic form and make it do their bidding.
For most other Saiyans, the Great Ape form allows a tremendous boost in size and strength, but it comes as the cost of intelligence and control.
Dragon Ball Z slowly moves away from Great Apes, though, as Super Saiyans replace the hairy transformation. That being said, Dragon Ball GT decided to return to the transformation in a very big way.
Dragon Ball GT introduces Golden Great Apes, which are the result of seeing a “full Earth” when the Saiyan is somewhere else in the universe (like on the moon, for example).
The Golden Great Ape operates much like its counterpart, but it can also shoot out beams of energy and fire from its mouth. The most important thing about it, though, is that it’s the gateway from to becoming Super Saiyan 4.
17 Powerful: Master Roshi’s Max Power
Humans have the unfortunate tendency to occupy the bottom of the food chain when it comes to Dragon Ball’s super powered warriors. However, before the franchise turned into a showcase for Saiyans, one of the seemingly strongest characters in the show was a human.
Goku owes a considerable amount (including his signature attack) to the teachings of Master Roshi. Roshi has taken first place at the World Martial Arts Tournament and tutored many fighters to great success.
He even gets called into action in Dragon Ball Super to be one of Universe 7’s ten representatives in the Tournament of Power. Roshi accomplishes all of this and he’s a human on top of it all. Krillin might eventually outshine his teacher, but Roshi is still one of the strongest humans that Earth has to offer.
Roshi has a number of techniques and fighting styles that he’s able to use to his advantage, but one of his biggest assets is that he can actually transform his body, so to speak.
He undergoes what looks to be an incredibly painful metamorphosis where he more than triples his body mass and bulks up into someone who could give Broly a run for his money.
Roshi uses this transformation in the most dangerous of situations, but it begs the question of whether Krillin, Tien, or Yamcha could also transform and bulk up in the same way.
16 Worthless: Super Ribrianne
Dragon Ball Super’s Tournament of Power definitely introduces a lot of memorable weirdoes, both for better or worse, into the series. One of the more contentious characters from the tournament is Brianne de Chateau.
Brianne comes from Universe 2 and is the leader of the universe’s Kamikaze Fireballs squad. The reason why Brianne rubs so many viewers the wrong way is because the character— and Universe 2 as a whole— is one big gag about Sailor Moon and other magical girl anime series.
Brianne goes through a very gratuitous transformation to turn into Magical Girl Ribrianne, but the twist here is that she morphs from a skinny girl into a huge, lofty caricature.
It’s the reverse of the typical magical girl anime transformation sequence. It seems like Universe 2 may have a skewed sense of beauty, because later on, Ribrianne says that Android 18 is unattractive and that Krillin is the desirable one in their relationship.
Later on, Brianne goes one step further and turns into Super Ribrianne, which is basically a giant butterfly that levitates above the stage.
Super Ribrianne is a super versatile fighter, but eventually Android 18 is able to defeat her with the help of Krillin’s love for her at her side, ironically enough.
15 Powerful: Mystic Gohan
Mystic Gohan— or Ultimate Gohan, if you prefer— is definitely a double-edged sword for fans of the maturing Saiyan. For a brief period towards the end of Dragon Ball Z’s Cell Saga and the beginning of the Buu Saga, Gohan was set to usurp the position as the show’s main hero after his father’s destruction against Cell.
Dragon Ball Z briefly plays with this idea, but eventually decides to put Goku back in the spotlight and sideline Gohan.
The eleventh hour reveal of Supreme Kai’s Z Sword and the power that lies inside via Old Kai restored hope for many people that maybe Dragon Ball would conclude with Gohan on top.
Gohan completes the Z Sword’s necessary challenges and unlocks his hidden potential, and for a few glorious moments, it’s quite the cathartic development. So much time in Dragon Ball Z’s Buu Saga is devoted to stalling Buu so that Gohan can receive this power-up and then arrive to save the day.
Gohan arrives and gains the advantage on Buu to be sure, but it’s only a matter of time until the brand new Gohan gets himself absorbed.
Mystic Gohan makes a flashy first impression, but Dragon Ball Super highlights how it’s not that great of a boost without the proper maintenance. Gohan’s skills fall into disrepair until he’s able to properly focus on them again.
14 Worthless: Super Saiyan 3
Everybody got really excited and freaked out the first time that they saw Goku transform into Super Saiyan 3, but let’s be honest, this transformation isn’t nearly as satisfying as everyone had hoped.
It had been a long time since Super Saiyan 2 had been unveiled at the conclusion of the Cell Saga and most of the Saiyans in the series had all achieved this plateau during the time of Buu. Naturally, audience’s started to wonder if a new form of Super Saiyan would be the answer to their Buu problems.
Well, it wouldn’t be, but a new form of Super Saiyan would still get to debut.
Goku uses Super Saiyan 3 against Buu, and while it makes an impression against the villain, the long-haired form puts such a strain on the human body that Goku can’t maintain it for very long.
Not only that, but it limits the time that he’s allowed left on Earth during his reprieve from the afterlife.
Surprisingly, Gotenks is the only other character who can turn into Super Saiyan 3 in the series and it still causes limitations for the rambunctious character, like the fact that their fusion time becomes drastically shortened.
The transformation contains a lot of power, but when it’s such a burden and requires such an efficient use of time, it’s seldom the ideal decision for battle.
13 Powerful: Kid Buu
Frieza helped audiences understand that villains could transform ad infinitum until they finally reached their “true power,” and Cell introduces the idea that characters can get absorbed to make another character stronger.
Buu takes both of those principles and runs as far as possible with them. The leader of the Majin race is capable of destroying the entire planet and has many forms that pose a challenge for Dragon Ball’s heroes.
In fact, some of Buu’s various forms seem so random that it’s likely that there are still other transformations that Buu has that have yet to be discovered. There’s Good Buu, Evil Buu, Super Buu, and the wealth of combinations in between that depend on which of the show’s heroes Boo has absorbed into his body.
Not only that, but several Buus can exist at once. Good Buu and Evil Buu operate independently of each other, which brings a whole other level of crazy into the series. It’s not as if Imperfect Cell and Perfect Cell are two separate entities.
Buu has many different transformations at his disposal, but it’s the tiny, unassuming Kid Buu that’s his strongest, most powerful form.
Kid Buu is basically just the streamlined version of the villain. All of the fat gets shed (literally) and the result is just an efficient fighting machine that’s also pure evil. All of the character’s obvious weaknesses are eliminated and he still has absorbed fighters’ moves within his arsenal.
12 Worthless: Lunch Into Launch
A lot of people overlook the fact that odd transformations of strength were going on all the way back in the days of the original Dragon Ball. One of the most peculiar examples takes place in the feisty, formidable character, Lunch.
Lunch is a meek, but polite blue-haired oman, but when Lunch sneezes, she experiences an unusual Jekyll/Hyde-like transformation into the blonde-haired and aggressive Launch.
Launch is Lunch’s polar opposite. She’s not only more outgoing and in control, but she’s an armed robber. Launch is definitely dangerous and she’s a reasonable concern back in Dragon Ball. It’s all the more surprising that such a kind character is at the core of it all.
Dragon Ball isn’t interested in figuring out why Lunch’s sneezes make her transform, nor does it want to put her on a mission for some cure. It just thinks the idea is humorous (much like the punful transition in her name from Lunch to Launch).
Launch can definitely do some damage, but it still feels like her origins come from a joke. It also doesn’t help that the character disappears from Dragon Ball because Akira Toriyama simply forgot about her and moved on. Surely the character, as Launch, is fuming somewhere.
11 Powerful: Golden Frieza
Frieza took a long time to fight the first time that he and Goku faced off against each other in Dragon Ball Z. The tyrant was sure to show off his multiple forms. Just when it seemed like the villain was overpowered, he would jump to his next transformation and adapt to the situation.
Dragon Ball Super was determined to deliver a lot of fan service to its audience, so it’s only natural that Akira Toriyama and TOEI would decide to once again bring back the show’s most notorious foe.
Since Goku and Vegeta are drastically stronger since the last time that Frieza’s been around, it only makes sense that Frieza would also need some new tricks up his sleeve, which is where his latest and greatest transformation, Golden Frieza comes into play.
The story behind Golden Frieza is that apparently Frieza never actually tried to train to get stronger throughout his entire life. After finally attempting to better himself, not only did he grow stronger, but he also unlocked a new transformation of power.
To be quite honest, Golden Frieza doesn’t seem that different than his other final form other than the palette swap. The character’s attacks are naturally stronger and he can easily destroy the Earth’s core, but his techniques and skills haven’t radically changed.
10 Worthless: Super Namek
Super Saiyans may be the buzzword when it comes to Dragon Ball, but many fans have wondered why they the only race that gets to have a “Super” form.
At a certain point, Krillin becomes stronger than Goku was when he first turned Super Saiyan, so could he be considered a “Super Human” when he powers up? Is Piccolo a Super Namek? The answer here is that this isn’t necessarily the case, but there are super versions that go beyond Saiyans.
Namekians are an interesting case because it feels like several different answers apply to them. After Piccolo absorbs Nail, he undergoes a significant power boost that was refered to as “Super Namek” at first.
Later on, after Frieza’s defeat, Piccolo powers up in such a significant way in his battle against Android 17 that many concluded that this was the true birth of a Super Namek.
Piccolo has obviously become much stronger since then, though, and the Tournament of Power also introduces Namekians from other universes who also appear to be Super Nameks in the same power-based sense.
On the other hand, several Namekians gain the ability to grow huge in size and it’s this metamorphosis that is called "Super Namek." The conclusion of the Lord Slug movie features Slug in Super Namek form and some fans think that King Piccolo pulled this feat off, too.
In both situations, it’s a helpful, yet indistinct power boost.
9 Powerful: Future Trunks’ Rage Super Saiyan/Super Trunks
One of the best things that Dragon Ball Super ever did was bring Future Trunks back into the fray, along with a whole slew of time travel-related problems.
Future Trunks is a very welcome face and helpful hand against the new threat of Zamasu and Goku Black. That being said, Goku and Vegeta have gained the strength of Gods since Future Trunks was last around.
It would be a little implausible to suddenly give Trunks the strength of a Super Saiyan God or Super Saiyan Blue, but the series does come up with a unique way to level the playing field.
Future Trunks is always a character who has been driven by his emotions. He’s been able to scrape away more power because of his pride and determination in battle.
In Dragon Ball Super, Zamasu and Goku Black push Future Trunks beyond his limits and the result is “Super Trunks.”
Super Trunks adopts a blue aura and certain characteristics from Super Saiyan Blue, but his hair remains yellow and it’s still reflected in his energy. Even still, Super Trunks can hold his own against Fused Zamasu, which means that it must at least be as strong as Super Saiyan Blue.
Vegeta also taps into something similar when Beerus hits Bulma and he briefly fills with rage.
8 Worthless: Ultra Super Saiyan
Up until the birth of Ultra Super Saiyan, or Super Saiyan Third Grade as it’s sometimes known, it didn’t look like there could be a bad transformation.
Once Goku became Super Saiyan, the floodgates were opened and every Saiyan way trying to hit the next level. As everyone prepares for the battle against Cell, some fascinating conclusions are reached about the Saiyan genealogy.
Trunks, and then the rest of the group, stumble upon the transformation of Ultra Super Saiyan. At first it looks like this could be the key to defeat Cell. The transformation comes with a big boost in power and it looks a whole lot more intimidating due to the heavy muscle mass that’s added along with the extra-spiky hair.
The extra strength might be nice, but the form is just too slow and bulky that it’s actually less efficient then regular Super Saiyan (or maybe even the Saiyan base form).
It’s a testament to how strength isn’t everything and that agility and speed is just as crucial in battle.
When Future Trunks returns in Dragon Ball Super, he once again drudges up the Ultra Super Saiyan form, much to everyone’s chagrin. Vegeta openly mocks his son for this and makes it clear that this transformation should never show up again.
He teaches Trunks that a Saiyan is beyond such worthless transformations and that he needs to strive for more. In his battle later with Fused Zamasu, he finally does.
7 Powerful: Berserker Super Saiyan Kale
Many Dragon Ball fans collectively lost their minds when a new opening theme song on Dragon Ball Super revealed what appeared to be the Legendary Super Saiyan, Broly.
Audiences now of course know that Broly would remain non-canon and only exist in the Dragon Ball movies, but something much more interesting takes place instead.
Dragon Ball Super offers up its own anime interpretation of the Legendary Super Saiyan and it comes in the form of Universe 6’s Kale.
Kale, Caulifla, and Cabba are the new crop of Saiyans from Universe 6. Of these new characters, Kale seems to be the most passive and uninteresting of the lot, but then she blows everyone away with one tremendous transformation.
Kale in moments of panic and stress can inexplicably bulk up into a Berserker Super Saiyan. The transformation is incredibly powerful and can not only handle both Super Saiyan Blue Goku and Vegeta, but can also get the attention of Jiren.
It seems like Kale’s body would be deeply injured after such a drastic transformation, but she seems to be relatively stable afterwards.
The only downside here is that Kale isn’t in control of herself when she accesses this power. Caulifla tries her best to keep her in check, but it’s a very dangerous development that sometimes is more trouble than it’s worth.
6 Worthless: Elder Guru Potential Unlocking
Dragon Ball Z spends a lot of time on Planet Namek that it can be easy to lose track of everything that happens on the planet, especially when it comes to the material that takes place before Goku arrives.
Everyone remembers Namek for its climactic destruction and the battle against Goku and Frieza that is to blame, but there are a lot of memorable moments that take place on the planet.
For instance, it marks the first time that Vegeta works alongside the good guys and helps out to take down a grater foe. Another major moment is when the kindly Elder Guru decides to help Gohan and Krillin out on their journey and give them both hefty boosts in power.
The Elder Guru’s process is just as gentle as he is. He just places his palm above the two of them and their deep potential gets pulled out in the process. The two allegedly become stronger after this, but it’s a superfluous transformation that’s mostly left to the imagination.
Furthermore, the two do a great job to stall on Namek, but it’s still Goku who saves the day, in spite of the Guru’s power-up.
Even Vegeta is more helpful against the Ginyu Force and he isn’t privy to the Guru’s bonus. The old guy must not have much left in him. This basically plays as the poor man’s version of Old Kai’s Mystic Gohan potential unlocking sequence.
5 Powerful: God Of Destruction Toppo
Dragon Ball Super greatly expands the boundaries of the Dragon Ball world by revealing that there are actually twelve different universes and that everything that’s taken place so far has just been relegated to Universe 7.
The addition of other universes allows for there to be many parallels of Universe 7 conventions, but it also means that there are eleven other Gods of Destruction that are out there and conceivably just as powerful and vengeful as Beerus.
Dragon Ball Super’s anime and manga both drop a few hints at the God of Destruction application process. Apparently it’s possible to train to become the next in line for the position provided that the prospective warrior is strong enough.
Even though Jiren is the strongest fighter in Universe 11, he respectfully turns down the right to become the universe’s next God of Destruction (he wants to protect, not destroy). Accordingly, the honor falls on fellow Pride Trooper, Toppo.
Toppo reveals that he has this privilege during the final act of the Tournament of Power. When Universe 7 pushes Toppo into a corner, he activates his God of Destruction abilities and transforms in a very volatile way.
Toppo gains a lot more muscle mass and an eerie purple aura, but the God of Destruction version of Toppo basically refines his existing skills instead of giving him any new abilities. He is able to destroy things, though, which is really the only power that someone needs.
4 Worthless: Zarbon’s Transformation
Remember when it seemed like Zarbon and Dodoria were some of the biggest threats that Dragon Ball had to offer? The two are the loyal right-hand men to Frieza, but they operate with a ruthlessness and efficiency that seriously worries the likes of Gohan and Krillin.
Even though Vegeta puts up a big front, but these characters seem to keep even him on alert. Everyone knows how powerful Frieza is, so if these guys are anywhere close to his strength, then clearly they’re trouble.
They’ve also been put on Dragon Ball duty, which means that Frieza trusts them with his important goal and knows that they can hold their own.
Of the two fighters, Dodoria appears to be the weaker of the pair and he doesn’t amount to be much of a challenge for Vegeta. That being said, Dodoria doesn’t have a transformation to fall back on, so he takes minimal effort to defeat.
On the other hand, Zarbon proves that he does have a back-up plan if he starts to lose in battle. Zarbon goes through a very ghastly change that would probably make Brianne de Chateau blush.
The elegant, pretty boy fighter morphs into a toad-like, lumpy individual. This uglier look is technically stronger, but it raises some peculiar questions about Zarbon’s idea of beauty.
Even with the grotesque power boost, he’s still not much of a challenge. Maybe if he had a third form he could have lasted until Goku’s arrival.
3 Powerful: Super Saiyan Blue
At the start of Dragon Ball Super, it certainly looked like Super Saiyan God was going to be the new transformation that the series would make the new normal, but then Super went one better and introduced a transformation that’s even more powerful.
Super Saiyan God powers were enough to handle Beerus’ invasion to Earth, but Goku and Vegeta are still determined to get stronger and surpass their limits.
The initial Super Saiyan Blue transformation is kept as a bit of a mystery in the Dragon Ball Super anime, but the powerful new form is especially helpful in the battle against Golden Frieza.
In fact, Super Saiyan Blue Vegeta can pretty much defeat Golden Frieza, it’s due to his cockiness and dropping his guard that allows for Frieza to pull off his coup and try to take Earth out with him.
Other than blue being a good look on Goku and Vegeta, the new Super Saiyan transformation maxes out the user’s speed and strength to unbelievable levels.
Without the strength of Super Saiyan Blue at their side, Universe 7 would have perished quite quickly in the Tournament of Power. It seems like new levels of this transformation are still being figured out too, as Vegeta reaches an Advanced Super Saiyan Blue stage that pushes his limits even further.
2 Worthless: Frieza Full Power
Frieza loves his transformations. The whole Goku versus Frieza fight is a lengthy debacle, but a lot of it has to do with how boastful Frieza is with his various transformations.
He toys with Goku and company to an infuriating degree, and whenever the good guys gain the advantage, Frieza just jumps ship and changes once again to reveal that he still wasn’t at full power. Frieza goes through a handful of colorful transformations, but his final one is the least impressive.
Frieza’s sleek, mainstreamed fourth final form is used for a good portion of the fight’s final act, but then Frieza suddenly transforms into “100% Full Power” mode.
Rather than transform in a bold, different way like every other time, he simply gets more muscular and less appealing. It’s almost like Toriyama forgot that there should be one more transformation and that this is the lazy result.
Frieza’s Full Power form is essentially the character’s equivalent to Super Saiyan 3. It’s stronger, but it drains a lot of power. Also, the boost doesn’t seem substantial enough to justify itself.
Not only that, but it actually leads to Frieza’s downfall in battle, too. After Frieza’s defeat on Namek this transformation is never seen again and Frieza’s true final form gets replaced with Golden Frieza the next time that he’s seen.
Even the series wants to forget about this one.
1 Powerful: Ultra Instinct
As it currently stands, Ultra Instinct is the strongest transformation that the Dragon Ball universe has to offer. It could be argued that Vegeta’s Advanced Super Saiyan Blue stage could be its equal in a number of ways, but the anime spends special attention on Ultra Instinct and just how much it fundamentally changes Goku and his instincts.
This transformation is such an ordeal that Goku even has to go through it several times before he properly masters it.
With Super Saiyan or any previous transformations, they’re more or less learned once they’re initially performed. This is not the case with Ultra Instinct, however, and Goku and Vegeta legitimately struggle with figuring out how to activate it.
Vegeta doesn’t get so lucky, but Goku does manage to master the hefty power-up. As a result, Goku takes on quite the intimidating appearance. He takes on a silvery/white aura that makes him look more like a God than he ever has before.
Not only that, but Ultra Instinct gets the attention of both Beerus and Whis and they act like this metamorphosis is quite the rare event. Ultra Instinct is essentially a level of zen where the user doesn’t even think about their movements-- they just exist and the body knows how to react and attack with near-indecipherable skills.
Without Ultra Instinct, Goku would have never got the upper hand against Jiren, which was the turning factor in the Tournament of Power.
Can you think of any other powerful (or worthless) transformations in Dragon Ball that we forgot to mention? Sound off in the comments!